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Space Age Music Maker

Monte Kelly

  • Born 8 June 1910, Oakland, California
  • Died 15 March 1971, New York City, New York

Along with Bob Lowden and Joe Kuhn, Monte Kelly was the primary arranger for the 101 Strings. Starting out in the early days of the big band era, he played trumpet for Griff Williams and Tom Coadey, two California sweet band leaders. He joined the CBS Radio staff at their San Francisco station, then hired on as first trumpet and occasional arranger with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.

During World War Two, he played with a U.S. Army band. Afterward, he moved to New York City and joined the staff of "The Bob Hope Show" on NBC Radio as assistant musical director. In the early 1950s, he quit the network and became a freelancer. He worked, credited and uncredited, for a variety of singers and orchestras. He was a prolific composer of short descriptive pieces, with titles like "Taoromina," "Tropicana," "Rio Del Mar," and "Noche en Malaga," which served him well when D.L. Miller signed him to write for the 101 Strings.

Kelly wrote the lion's share of the original compositions that studded the 101 Strings' seemingly endless series of travelog albums--"Soul of Spain," "Soul of Russia," "Soul of Poland," yadda, yadda, yadda. And in true budget label fashion, Somerset (which became Alshire when it moved operations to Los Angeles) recycled the better tunes several times over: Kelly's "Malibu Sun" appears on "Guitars Galore," "Great Hits of 1967," and "101 Strings Play Tijuana Style," for example.


  • I Love, Essex ESLP-106
  • Porgy and Bess: Stereo Orchestrations, Carlton STLP-12/111
  • Summer Set, Carlton STLP-12/123
  • Harlequins in Music, Somerset P-17400

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